Communities In Schools of Houston celebrates nonprofit’s 40th year

Gala raises more than $1.2M to help meet record demand for student mental health, comprehensive support services in schools


(HOUSTON, TX) – More than 800 business and community leaders dedicated to helping school children in their times of need will gather at the Communities In Schools (CIS) of Houston 40th Anniversary Gala on Feb. 26. Generous benefactors already have committed more than $1.2 million leading up to the fundraising event as educators call on Student Support Specialists from CIS to help more students than ever with mental health and other comprehensive services.

This school year, CIS Student Support Specialists, commonly known by students and families as CIS counselors, have been called into 160 campuses to help approximately 120,000 students in Houston Independent School District, Spring Branch ISD, Alief ISD, Fort Bend ISD and Lone Star College. From crisis intervention, trauma and mental health counseling to providing basic necessities and doing whatever it takes to set students up for success in college and future careers, CIS Student Support Specialists are embedded on campuses to break down any barrier to student well-being and help educators create school cultures where it’s okay to reach out for help.

“More CIS Student Support Specialists than ever are counted on by teachers and staff to identify and provide—at a moment’s notice—needed support to students who may be struggling through issues on their own," CIS of Houston CEO Lisa Descant said. “As the demand for these critical support services in schools continues to increase, business and community leaders, too, are investing in these students, their futures and the future of our state.”

Renowned philanthropists and gala chairs, Judy and Charles Tate, and Greater Houston Partnership Chairman Scott McClelland will be among the hundreds supporting CIS’ work in schools and honoring its CEO Emeritus at the benefit gala. Mayor Sylvester Turner will proclaim the day as the City of Houston’s “Cynthia Clay Briggs Day.” When CIS of Houston first launched on a single Houston campus in 1979, Briggs was its first social worker. Fifteen years later, she became the organization’s executive director and worked in the CEO role until her recent retirement. Under her leadership, CIS of Houston expanded significantly with an estimated impact to more than 3 million students over the organization’s 40-year history.

Learn more about CIS of Houston’s work, proven to help students succeed in school and achieve in life, and to provide an economic benefit of $18.80 for every dollar invested—a 24.8 percent annual rate of return—at